Solar Energy can be converted to heat and/or electricity using solar thermal or photovoltaic route. There are several methods to generate electricity using solar thermal route. OEC is pursuing research on development of some of the solar thermal energy applications and heat storage materials.
Solar Thermal Dish Stirling Engine system installed in SEC Solar dishes can be used to capture and concentrate direct normal radiation from Sun and coupled with Stirling Engine to convert the concentrated heat into electricity. Stirling engine is considered to be one of the most efficient heat engines. One of the advantages of this method is that no water is required, hence can be used in water deficient areas as well. Three units of Solar Thermal Dish Stirling Engine System, developed by a US company, which can generate grid quality AC electricity (230V, 50 Hz), up to 3 kW peak power at solar insolation of 850 W/m2, are installed & operational in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Gurugram. Each unit is producing up to 2.2 kW at 750 W/m2 in isolation. The long term performance evaluation of these units is in progress for more than five years.
OEC is working with IIT Bombay on design and development of single cylinder free piston Stirling engine (FPSE) for net 3 kWe electrical output using solar energy and also other renewable energy as input. During the non-sunshine hours, it is possible to integrate biogas, natural gas or stored heat to get power from these engines round-the-clock. This work is in early stages of development.
OEC in association with Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, have develop combinations of salts for thermal storage of heat, essential for extended utilization of solar energy. Under this collaborative project, various salt combinations suitable for temperature range138°C to 750°C have been developed.
OEC is working with BARC, Mumbai to indigenously design and develop a 2 MWe Beam Down Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant. The plant construction at Mehsana (Gujarat) is expected to start soon. The molten salt compositions developed jointly with ICT are also to be tested at this facility.